Every year, thousands of citizens leave Ireland to work, travel, study or retire abroad. Some people leave Ireland to work or study for a short period (that is, a few months), other people go abroad for longer. Many others who have been living, studying or working in Ireland also leave to return to their home countries.
Countries covered by EU regulations
If you move to live or work in a country covered by EU
Regulations, this means that for social security benefits/services, you are entitled to be treated in the same way as the nationals in the EU
member state/EEA country that you move to. On a practical level, this means that you and your family are entitled to apply for any benefits or assistance available in the country in which you reside. If you are applying for insurance-based payments, any contributions made in other EU
member states/EEA countries should be taken into account.
Social insurance contribution record
If you need to claim benefits while living abroad you will be asked to provide information about your Irish social insurance record.
You can use forms E104 and U1 (formerly E301) when claiming sickness, maternity or unemployment benefits abroad - see 'How to apply' below. The U1 is called a portable document
and it provides details of your Irish social insurance record
If you don’t bring your E104 or U1 with you, the country you have moved to will contact Irish authorities to get a record of your insurance contributions when you apply to them for unemployment, sickness or maternity benefits. A request from another EU member state for your social insurance record will be prioritised by the Department of Social Protection so that you don’t lose out on any benefits due to you when abroad.
If you are returning to Ireland from a country in the EU/EEA, you should bring an E104 and U1 form back with you as they will provide details of the insurance contributions you made in that country. The forms are presented at the relevant social security agency of the country you are living in when you are making a claim.
How to apply
A request for an E104 or U1 by another EU member state is always prioritised by the Department of Social Protection. This is because a person who is unemployed or sick abroad has made a claim for benefit and it must be dealt with as quickly as possible.
If you want to bring your E104 and U1 with you, you can request your Irish social insurance record for E104 and U1 (pdf)
before leaving. The E301 form (now replaced by U1) may still be in use and is valid until 2012. Processing your application can take some time as the DSP may have to contact your recent employer/s before the E104 and U1 forms can be issued.
You should send the completed application form to the International Records Section of the Department of Social Protection (DSP) - see 'Where to apply' below. With your application, you must include a copy of your P45, a copy of your P60 and remember to include your address abroad.